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Books by Lovink, Terranova, and Brubaker That Discuss My Projects

Books by Lovink, Terranova, Brubaker

I’m happy to share a new batch of recent books that discuss my projects:

Geert Lovink’s book is only recently out in the US, though it’s been available in Europe for a while. Brubaker just came out and the Terranova volume is due out shortly (at least in the US). I’ve already read Geert’s book and it’s fabulous—highly recommended. I’ve been reading and citing Terranova since I started reading in media studies so am excited to read this collection. I don’t know Brubaker’s work but the book sounds fabulous.

Fellowship at Harvard University for 2022-23

Institute for Rebooting Social Media, Berkman Klein Center, Harvard University

This year I’ll be a fellow at Harvard University with the Institute for Rebooting Social Media at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. I’m looking forward to expanding my artistic efforts to decouple online sociality from big social media’s drive for endless growth, using my finite social network Minus as a subject for study and vehicle for future experiments.

The fellowship is hybrid (some on-site, some remote), so I’ll be back and forth between Urbana and Cambridge during the year.

Here’s the announcement.

Tokenize This in The Byzantine Generals Problem at distant.gallery

The Byzantine Generals Problem at distant.gallery

My work Tokenize This is part of The Byzantine Generals Problem at distant.gallery. Curated by Domenico Quaranta and produced by Aksioma, it’s an online exhibition focused on artworks which, while not avoiding to engage with blockchains and crypto culture, do so in a critically constructive way: questioning dominant narratives, raising problems, and sometimes proposing alternative solutions.

Here’s Domenico writing about Tokenize This in his curatorial essay:

If artworks have often been instrumental to speculative drives, this has never been the case for born-digital art, which didn’t resist commodification (especially in the form of post-digital derivatives) but was rarely perceived as a speculative investment. Before the advent of blockchains and smart contracts, the only digital asset equipped with scarcity was the domain name, which sometimes acquired economic value because of its inherent qualities (short, effective, easy to remember) or its accumulated attention and incoming links rather than its content. Artists working with digital media acknowledged the challenge they were presenting to cultural markets and their intrinsic resistance to market logic, and often found in it and in the freedom it allowed the raison d’etre of their entire practice. Tokenize This (2020) by Ben Grosser is an explicit call to the net art community to not forget that freedom. Released at the height of the NFT craze, Tokenize This is a net art work that generates uniqueness while resisting commodification. Upon each new visit, the site produces a “unique digital object” that includes a custom colour gradient and guaranteed exclusive identification code, all referenced by a matching URL. What makes Tokenize This different from the typical website whose URLs act as persistent indexes for a page and its contents is that it destroys each page right after its creation. While the original visitor can view the unique digital object for as long as they leave their browser tab open, any subsequent attempt to copy, share or view that URL in another tab, browser or system leads to a “404 Not Found” error. In other words, Tokenize This generates countless digital artifacts that can only be viewed or accessed once. The work acts in opposition to the capitalist ideologies embedded in NFTs and the ways in which NFT markets have already thrust an often anti-capitalist and anti-corporate art medium into a 21st-century gold rush get-rich-quick kind of frenzy.

You can watch the opening event with the curator:

Artists in the show include Anna Ridler, Ben Grosser, Constant Dullaart, DIS, Face or Factory, Kyle McDonald, LaTurbo Avedon, Moxie Marlinspike, Nascent, Rhea Myers, Sarah Friend, Sarah Meyohas, Simon Denny / Guile Twardowski / Cosmographia, Sterling Crispin, and The Miha Artnak. It is on view indefinitely.

Artist Talk at Cukrarna in Ljubljana

As part of the public events with my exhibition Software for Less at Aksioma, I gave an artist talk titled Less Metrics, More Rando: Techniques of Resistance in a Platform World.

Software for Less at Aksioma in Slovenia

Software for Less at Aksioma – Opening Night

My solo exhibition Software for Less is now on view at the Aksioma Institute of Contemporary Art in Ljubljana, Slovenia! It is Aksioma’s fourth and final installment in their New Extractivism series, which also featured solo exhibitions by Joana Moll, Vladen Joler, and DISNOVATION.

Software for Less at Aksioma (photo by Domen Pal / Aksioma)

Software for Less at Aksioma (photo by Domen Pal / Aksioma)

On view through 22 June, the show includes many of the same works I had at arebyte, including ORDER OF MAGNITUDE, DEFICIT OF LESS (not pictured), The Endless Doomscroller, Go Rando, Safebook, Platform Sweet Talk, Twitter Demetricator, and Minus. Events include(d) a public artist talk (watch here or below), a workshop on software recomposition at ALUO, and the opening on 25 May. Italian scholar and critic Valentina Tanni published a text alongside the exhibition titled The Great Algorithm.

Software for Less at Aksioma – Opening Night

Software for Less at Aksioma – Opening Night

Software for Less at Aksioma – Opening Night

You can view video of the setup on opening night, photos from the opening, and additional formal exhibition photos by Domen Pal / Aksioma. There’s also a recording of my artist talk at Cukrarna in Ljubljana.

This edition of Software for Less was curated by Janez Janša at Aksioma. It is an adaptation of my exhibition of the same title commissioned by arebyte Gallery (London, UK) in fall 2021, which was curated by Rebecca Edwards and featured the works Platform Sweet Talk, Minus and DEFICIT OF LESS commissioned by arebyte.

Twitter Demetricator in Estonia

Estonian National Museum in Tartu, Photo by Arp Karm

Twitter Demetricator is on exhibit at the Estonian National Museum in Tartu as part of the exhibition Number Fascination. Up through October, the show examines how counting and measurement have changed culture, especially in the age of the digital.

Twitter Demetricator in the Estonian National Museum, Photo by Me-Mind

Living by Protocol at Harvard Art Museum

My works Minus, Go Rando, and ORDER OF MAGNITUDE will be part of Living by Protocol at the Harvard Art Museum. Curated by Kim Albrecht and Sarah Newman, “Living by Protocol queries the contemporary reflections of artists and artistic researchers on, with, and by social media. While scientific research deepens the knowledge of a specific domain, art and artistic research has the power to transfer questions, problems, and opportunities into wider spectrums of society. … The use of social media has become a daily routine for billions of people throughout the last decade. The problems and possibilities of this new media reality were reflected and questioned by artists long before its popularization. Cyberfeminism and Net Art laid a foundation in the digital realm as an artistic medium in the early 1990s. Today, contemporary art is almost unthinkable without the network effects of Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook.”

The exhibition will run from May 17-July 3, 2022 at the Lightbox Gallery at Harvard Art Museums. Artists: Manja Ebert, Ben Grosser, Lauren Lee McCarthy, Mirabelle Jones, Mimi Onuoha, Kim Albrecht, Sarah Newman & Jad Esber, and Winnie Soon.

Panel on (De)Quantifying Social Interaction with Zurich University of the Arts

On Tuesday, 29 March at 12pm CDT / 19:00 CET I spoke about social media demetrication, Zuckerberg supercuts, and radical platform alternatives with Cornelia Sollfrank and Martin Warnke as part of their Ambiguous Data talk series. Details here

Works at ADM Gallery Singapore

Information Wants to be Free? at ADM Gallery, Singapore

My works ORDER OF MAGNITUDE, DEFICIT OF LESS, and Minus are part of Information Wants to be Free?: Art and the Internet at ADM Gallery, Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore. Curated by Kristine Tan, the exhibition explores “a range of contentious issues surrounding the role of Big Tech on the use of personal data, algorithmic bias, surveillance, and more.” Artists include Kara Chin, Chong Yan Chuah, Thomson & Craighead, disnovation.org, Bani Haykal, Bill Posters & Daniel Howe, Rachel Maclean, Michael Mandiberg, Tabita Rezaire, and myself.

The exhibition opens on 25 March and runs through 13 May.

Recent Mentions of Minus in Washington Post, Atlantic, Newsweek

Washington Post and The Atlantic

I’ve been meaning to post about a few recent mentions of Minus. The Washington Post article by Will Oremus has me (happily) countering a statement from Facebook VP Nick Clegg, and talking about how Minus shows that social networks without feed algorithms can avoid some of big social’s problems. Ian Bogost’s post in The Atlantic and the Newsweek piece are both focusing on how smaller size networks that, like Minus, eschew scale, may chart a new direction forward.